Rise and Grind


The Ultimate Guide to Fat-Burning


Disclaimer: I have hesitated to write this article for quite some time, as it represents but one (very effective) way to shed fat and gain lean hard muscle. There are many ways to get in fantastic shape, this however represents MY go-to approach. I am first and foremost, an advocate for personalization for any program. So take away the parts of this that vibe with you and leave the other pieces for another day. In this article I go into some of the important science of weight loss, and lean muscle growth; touching on nutrition, food and exercises timing and discuss some of the important hormones affected by both. After all the science I give you my specific formula for hacking your fat burning efficiency so you can live and thrive in a lean, ripped body that you are proud to call your own. So, without further ado…

This is my ultimate guide to most effectively burn fat and pack on some lean sexy muscle. It’s a gift from Me to You.

It's derived from decades of education, trial and error and from being my own personal guinea pig. There is an infinitely evolving quest for the miracle program to lose weight effectively. While many may suggest that the process must be a long grueling one, I intend to show you otherwise. Weight loss, and lean muscles mass should be a side effect from living a healthy lifestyle, and assuming you are a pretty healthy person, allow this to be the program that takes you to the next level of your fit physique. If done correctly, this guide can have exponentially great effects on your entire being and not just your stored fat deposits. The key? Knowing your hormones and how you can effectively manipulate them through diet and exercise.

5 am: Your alarm blasts a melodic tune of peaceful transient noises that seem to fly out of your phone or alarm clock like a flock of rabid seagulls with megaphones. They have decided to all nest on twigs of squeaky Styrofoam directly inside your ear canal. Your stress hormone, cortisol, spikes in an attempt to reorganize your moments-ago-unconscious self and prepare you for the upcoming tasks of the day. Besides experiencing (hopefully) your highest cortisol spike of the day, some of the other "fitness" hormones are performing some unique acts right now as well. The muscle building hormone testosterone is at an all-time high, insulin levels are at an all-time low and your ghrelin levels are elevated, triggering a release in growth hormone. This in turn, has kicked on your body's ability to mobilize fat to use as fuel during your 6-10 hour fast as you've been sleeping. This is of course under the assumption that you did not woof down a boatload of carbohydrates or an entire bottle of wine right before going to bed. If the latter is indeed the case, then your ghrelin hormone levels may indeed be screaming at you to feed this starving body more fast burning fuels because you have interrupted the body's ability to naturally pop you into a state of ketosis.

Wow. That's quite a bit to wrap your head around, especially if you've never delved into a deeper look on this subject. So, for heaven's sake, let's break it down a bit shall we?

In this article we will be breaking down each of the following components of your fitness:

  • Hormone Health- Understanding the basics around your fitness hormones and how to get them on your team by utilizing 3 factors: exercise, nutrition, and timing.

  • Ketone Nutrition- In this article I break down the basics of Ketosis and utilizing fat as a fuel source. There’s a few things we can do naturally, and a few easy hacks that I include.

  • Fat-Melting Cardio- In this section I break down my go-to formula for burning calories that won’t just stay off, but will continue instructing your body to burn long after you’re done.

  • Strength Train to Burn- In the last section of this article I break down the type and timing of a strength training program that will allow you to burn more calories all the time; including the time you are not even working out.

Hormone Health

Cortisol is often referred to as the "stress hormone" so how is its' elevated level benefiting you in the morning? Because cortisol is a catabolic hormone, meaning that it breaks down nutrients in the body, it has been productive in slowly rising throughout the night as you've been sleeping. In doing this, your body's stored energy (fat) has therefore been able to break down more readily as this hormone has continually been on the rise. Along with your cortisol's gradual ramp throughout your slumber, Ghrelin has also been charging through the blood stream informing your brain that it is in fact hungry. Ghrelin is responsible for sending the hunger message to the brain when the stomach is without food. So, again, why would this be beneficial to us? Well, besides simply telling the body when it should eat, Ghrelin also plays a key role in energy regulation and breakdown.

During the course of your slumber, your brain has used up any of its' faster burning fuel sources to use as anabolic aids (growing and repairing) and brain fuel. Simple carbohydrates, any alcohol, and in the case of 8 hours without feeding, even complex carbohydrates have likely all been broken down into glucose for the brain and body to use. So what happens? Along with elevated Ghrelin and cortisol, a third hormone is at a near all-time high- Growth Hormone (GH). GH is one of the most powerful fat-burning, muscle building hormones in your body, upon its introduction to the "fitness hormone cocktail" the body wants to make absolutely sure that the rebuilding of muscle tissue is of optimum importance. So, after fuel from glucose has been depleted, and any potential for more via catabolized muscle (through a process called gluconeogenesis which allows stored muscle energy to be broken down into usable glucose) is out the window because of the presence of GH, then the only option left is the one we aim to utilize- fat.

Fat as a main fuel source for the brain and body has reached an all-time high by now and will remain that way if and only if your insulin levels remain low. Insulin is the hormone responsible for storing energyin the body. It kicks on in a response to elevated blood glucose levels. Therefore, you guessed it- don't eat a bunch of carbs for breakfast! In fact, by not only not eating carbs for breakfast, but instead, by choosing to have nothing for breakfast, then hypothetically your ketone levels (broken down fat that can be used by the brain and body as fuel) will remain high. Seems like a great plan except for one little problem, you're ghrelin levels are still high and you are about to be or already are very hungry; and wouldn't you know it, I'm about to tell you to go workout! So, what do you do? Turn ghrelin levels down by filling up on easily broken down fats!

Now that we've taken care of your "fitness hormone" physiology course let's get into some application. Simple. Fats in the morning and nothing else. Now, if you are also seeking to grow a hardy amount of lean muscle then I suggest adding some protein to your oily fatty morning mixture some days each week, but since this is the "ultimate guide to burning fat" then I will remain focused on the topic at hand. Intermittent fasting has an enormous amount of positive benefits, and when done correctly can work to kick you into a supercharged version of yourself. I'm talking about clean burning high octane natural rocket fuel coursing through your veins. Skin glowing nutrient rich hues of natural beauty and body cavities filled with clean, detoxified organs performing at optimal working levels!... But, we will save that talk for another time, for now, intermittent fasting as it relates solely to fat loss- is beyond helpful! For, as we've just learned, what we naturally are upon first wake is a fat-burning machine. This, as I mentioned before, is exponentially true if you are not eating a high-carb, alcohol- infused diet. So, now that we see that Mother Nature is on our side, then it becomes our job to find ways to continue this natural fat-burning for as long as possible. So, here's the plan as I would have it, in a perfect world…

Rise out of bed peacefully and with purpose (for more direction on this refer to my blog Beginning Your day In Bliss). Your purpose- get the absolute most out of this day. This happens most effectively when three steps are followed. Step 1 is more important than step 2 and step 2 is more important than step 3. But, if losing fat pounds and becoming the healthiest version of yourself is a priority, then don't skip any!


1. Increase time spent in Ketosis- as we've previously discussed, ketosis is the body's natural process of breaking down fats to use as a fuel source for the brain and body. By deciding to restrict food intake for a while after you rise you allow your body to continue using its' stored energy until insulin is introduced. Insulin is released when blood glucose levels increase following a carbohydrate rich meal. So, before jumping into steps 2 and 3, let's expand on how to best achieve step 1 (the most important step). Caffeine has been known for its metabolic raising abilities for decades. You are trying to burn more fat- have some caffeine! My preferred method is with a high quality single-origin coffee (I won't endorse any brands here, just do your research, there are plenty of good options). Okay, so now we are burning upwards of 20% more calories through the addition of coffee, let's ensure that these remain fat calories- cue the next key ingredient; MCT oil. Medium Chain Triglycerides are the most bio-available form of usable fat fuels that can be taken exogenously. So, have some. You can find them at any high end grocery store or health food store and if you cannot, just use coconut oil. It is not a concentrated form of MCT's but it is certainly sufficient. I also like to add heavy whipping cream to my coffee for added satiety and some extra fat fuel. Some other popular recipes call for melting butter into your coffee. Try out your own version and see which you prefer. This technically will not break your fast because you are still not kicking insulin on. But, as discussed previously, you are hushing the groaning noises of the stomach's Ghrelin production as well as providing some additional rocket fuel to the body for steps number 2 and 3. To step your ketosis utilization up a bit further you can take a look into newly emerging supplements containing BHB (Beta hydroxybuterate). This naturally occurring compound has been shown in many studies to boost the rate and volume of blood ketone levels when introduced to a low carbohydrate diet, as well as aiding as a helpful push back into ketosis following a day you were not so low-carb. (For my “elevated” coffee recipe, click here)


Fat-Melting Cardio

2.High intensity interval bouts followed by slow cardio. This can be a tough one for some, for as mentioned previously, sometimes finding motivation to get up and go in the morning is already taxing enough. Now, asking for HIIT sessions to start your morning? Again, perfect world scenario. And once you have begun to truly experience the rocket-fueling effects of ketosis this may seem a bit more tolerable, hell, it may even become fun! (Keep an eye out for my soon-available WIIT (Whole Intensity Interval Training) programs, combining HIIT with brief guided mindful meditations! Coming soon in my Whole Fit-30 program) So, why HIIT followed by slow cardio? If performed properly, you will truly be doing high intensity INTERVALS, and not an entire high intensity workout. This is crucial because, during this fasted state, your body does not possess any readily available fast acting fuels unless it is forced to dig into precious stored muscle to break down and turn into glucose. This will happen if you do not allow a rest interval into your morning regime. For examples of some killer Morning HIIT routines reach out and connect with me for some personalized programming.

The main goal for torturing your body to this degree this early in the morning is not necessarily for the calories you will be burning while pounding out these maximal efforts; the benefit comes after you leave the gym, from a process called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). Because you've done your damndest to send your metabolism on this towering spike through your HIIT session, you have forced your body to deal with the effects all day. So, beginning from the time you jump on a bike or treadmill for that slow cardio immediately following your HIIT until what some studies have shown to be 48 hours later; you will be effectively burning more calories! Not only are you effectively burning more calories, but because during recovery you have access to an abundant supply of luscious, beautiful oxygen, those excess calories you will be burning are almost entirely derived of fat! So, even if you lack the extra 20-40 minutes to get your slow cardio done in the morning- at least do your HIIT! Your body will be thanking you all day long!

Strength Train to Burn

3.Weight training in the evening. Reason 1 why this is important- it gets you sweating and moving again! So if you prefer a different method to weight training, perhaps yoga, zumba, surfing, hiking ect. Then go for it! I endorse weight training for step 3 because this is "the ultimate guide to burning fat" and a healthy dose of muscle breakdown will work wonders for your quest to a leaner, meaner You!

Reason 2- By saving your weight lifting for the evening you are allowing for much larger quantities of fuel in the body to help push you through this delightfully, grueling hour. But won't lifting weights make me bulky? I want to burn fat not look like a linebacker! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to gain big thick linebacker-esc muscles? Extremely difficult, your diet, your hormones and your lifestyle will absolutely not allow for you to get bulky upon lifting some weights. What it will allow is for some lean muscle breakdown and another increase in Growth Hormone. GH increases what again? Yep, you remembered correctly,  your body's fat-burning efficiency! And while your GH and testosterone are actively working to rebuild some nice sexy lean muscle you have gone and pushed yourself into a second state of EPOC! Oh my gosh, you're unstoppable! So, not only was your metabolism still raised from your morning workout which was already going to carry into tomorrow, you've now triggered a second metabolic lift to work synergistically to elevate your oxygen consumption and therefore fat reduction! 

Man! Are you excited about this? I am. This is amazing. You: just by better understanding the most important part of any fitness program, have now seen just how simple it is to make a few tweaks in your daily routine in order to become a fat-burning titan! This triple edged sword will not only be your guide to the most effective fat burning ever, but also toward sustainable elevation in mood and happiness. Okay, that last part is a bit subjective, but I dare you to try not being happier when you look at yourself in the mirror after following this protocol for a month. Yes, as I declared earlier, this is but one way to approach the quest for something that has kept people feeling frustrated and other people employed for generations. But, with the science and countless trials to back it, I will be the first to follow this guide yet again, the next time I am in need of dropping my own spare tire a few lbs… Try it out, and for more guidance on how to fine-tune your personalized fat-burning-formula leave a comment and I’ll happy to provide you with more details! Knowledge is power! and Health is Wealth!

Be Light, and Stay Elevated!

Rocky Russo2 Comments